New Delhi, Jan 4 (IANS) The Supreme Court on Thursday dismissed the habeas corpus plea filed by a family member of Nikhil Gupta, the Indian national accused by US federal prosecutors of plotting to assassinate Khalistani leader Gurpatwant Singh Pannun.
A bench of Justices Sanjiv Khanna and Dipankar Datta remarked that the issue is “sensitive” in nature and the Union government should decide the extent of its intervention.
The bench said that it cannot go into merits of the case or pass any directions relating to grant of consular access and legal aid in the matter considering the public international law and comity of courts.
The apex court took note of the fact that Gupta — who was detained at Prague Airport on June 30 last year — has already been granted consular access in terms of the Vienna Convention and certain directions were earlier passed by the Delhi High Court as well.
Earlier in December 2023, the Supreme Court had asked the kin of Gupta to first approach the court in Czech Republic where he is presently detained.
Adjourning the hearing to January 4, it had said, “If there is violation of any law, you have to go to court over there.”
An indictment was brought in US District Court against Gupta of “planning and directing” a plot from India to allegedly kill Sikh separatist leader Pannun — a dual citizen of the US and Canada — in New York.
The petition filed before the Supreme Court of India claimed that the influence of the US on the Czech authorities poses a reasonable apprehension about Gupta’s safety in Czech prison.
It further alleged that Gupta was denied consular access, the right to contact his family in India, and the freedom to seek legal representation.
It demanded appointment of legal counsel in both countries — Czech Republic and the US, specifically an Indian advocate to represent him during the extradition trial in Prague.